Pesach '96

The Aged Wine of Judaism

           Every year, the same Pesach themes emerge.  They bear repetition: new
meaning emanates from engaging discussion.  Just like old wine -- the taste
improves with age -- so, too, the ever-enduring concepts and ideals of Judaism
produce more delicious sensations with each passing year.  Our mental taste-
buds will rejoice with spiritual exultation if we only allow them freedom to consider
in an undisturbed and unpressured setting.

           The "pressure and disturbance" of a cynical, all-knowing society must be
put aside: the disbeliever is not permitted to partake of the Pesach-lamb, just as
the uncircumcised is not permitted.  In Egypt, all the Israelites had to accept
Moshe's authority and be circumcised.  Someone who did not believe would not
have the benefit of the "passover" -- G-d passing over the houses of the Israelites
at the death of the firstborn -- and would be left behind.  As the Hagadah mentions
regarding the "wicked son:" 'if he had been there, he would not have been

Pesach, Matza and Morror

           The Meshech Chochmah (Parshas Beha'aloscha) shows how the sacrifice
of the lamb known as the Pesach represented breaking away from idolatry.
Several times in history, special Pesach sacrifices were made, not because of the
holiday, but as a sign of renewing the faith of Judaism and turning away from
idolatrous habit.

           Even today, there are commentaries who maintain that it is forbidden to
give matza and morror/bitter herb to a disbeliever (See Birkas Raphael ch. 65).
The Derech Pikudecha holds that the matza of afikomon should not be given to a
disbeliever because it commemorates the Pesach lamb (ibid).

           Imagine arriving at a fabulous Pesach Seder banquet and being told that
you would have to renounce your lifesyle and go under the knife!

           "And I said: 'by your blood shall you live,' and I said: 'by your blood shall you
live.' "  (Ezekiel 16:6)  "Just as Israel was redeemed because of the blood of the
lamb and the blood of the circumcision, so, too, in the future, they will be
redeemed by the blood of the lamb and the blood of the circumcision."  (Pirke
D'Rebbe Eliezer ch.29).

          Rabban Gamliel, near the end of the Hagadah, states that the death of the
firstborn at midnight, was accompanied by a revelation of the Divine Presence.  It
happened at one moment -- so swiftly that the dough did not have time to rise.

May each year bring a renewal of the agreement to abide by Jewish practices, and
a fresh taste of the revelation -- at the moment of renewed freedom!